>> tonight on frontline... >> come on. ( gunfire ) >> the material is classified... is still classified. >> julian assange. >> to some people, a hero; to other people, the devil. >> bradley manning. >> an idealistic young soldier who fell out of place in the army. >> bradley manning was a troubled young man. >> over half a million leaked documents. >> we don't really know whether manning approached wikileaks or it was the other way around. >> we had always feared that one of our potential sources would be exposed. >> tonight... >> when you read the chat, it sounds like there is some kind of connection with you. >> ...the whole story... >> we do not know whether mr. manning is our source or not. >> "wikisecrets." >> the best way to keep a secret
is to never have it. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major funding is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. and by reva and david logan. committed to investigative journalism as the guardian of the public interest. additional funding is provided by the park foundation. dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. and by the frontline journalism fund.
>> smith: in late 2009, an army intelligence analyst stationed in eastern iraq logged onto a classified server. >> you see all those people standing down there? >> that's a weapon. >> yeah. >> smith: he opened a file that had been flagged by army lawyers. >> ...have five to six individuals with ak-47s. request permission to engage. >> smith: it was footage taken from a us army helicopter gunship. >> light them all up.
>> come on, fire. ( machine gun fire ) >> hey, roger! ( machine gun fire ) >> keep shooting. ( machine gun fire ) >> keep shooting. ( machine gun fire ) >> all right, we just engaged all eight individuals. >> oh, yeah. look at all those dead bastards. >> smith: very soon after, daniel domscheit-berg, who was working with the whistle-blowing web site wikileaks, saw the video. >> you got a bunch of bodies laying there. >> we also have one individual appears to be wounded, trying to crawl away. >> it was this poor man, crouching through the streets for his life. >> getting up. >> does he have a weapon in his hand? >> no, i haven't seen one yet. >> you get the feeling these guys really want to shoot, and they ask for permission to shoot a couple of times. >> bushmaster, we have a van that's approaching and picking up the bodies. >> yeah, we're trying to get
permission to engage. >> and then, you get this short moment of hope where the civilians arrive in the van. and you feel like okay, finally, at least this guy has made it. >> come on, let us shoot. >> they're taking him. >> request permission to engage. >> one-eight, engage. >> clear. >> come on. ( machine gun fire ) >> clear. ( machine gun fire ) >> and then, they're all dying and the whole van is blown up. >> smith: among the dead were two reuters journalists and other civilians. >> oh, yeah. look at that, right through the windshield. >> ( laughs ) >> smith: did you know what you wanted to do with it? >> publish-- that was clear. >> so, my name is julian assange. i am the editor of wikileaks. >> smith: wikileaks founder julian assange unveiled the footage at a press conference in washington. >> the material is dramatic. it was classified... um, is still classified.
>> they're taking him. >> there were a lot of people that were in favor of just publishing it. it seems that julian had this crazy idea right in the beginning to sell it. >> there was a news agency that tried very hard to get hold of this. >> his idea was to market it for $1 million exclusively to cnn or someone else who would be interested. >> the material itself, you see, is significant and important. >> smith: in the end, assange edited the material into a short presentation with a provocative title-- "collateral murder." >> you can identify the journalists immediately by the cameras they are carrying, by the camera bags. >> smith: over the next year, the video would be seen on youtube over 11 million times. were you satisfied with the impact of the video? did it achieve the result that you had hoped? >> it was pretty close. could we have structured things, structured various deals,
economic incentives and so on, to get an even bigger impact? the answer's probably yes. we can't discuss our sourcing of the video. >> smith: then, just seven weeks after assange released his video, a private in iraq was arrested. >> army private bradley manning... >> ...was arrested outside of baghdad, and is now in a military prison. >> smith: he was a 22-year-old intelligence analyst who had been in country for just seven months. this is the story of bradley manning, wikileaks, and how more than half a million secret government documents came into public view. >> smith: we begin a year before manning was deployed to iraq.
he was stationed at a base in upstate new york. he posted these photos on facebook and called it "fort frostbite." manning's facebook page, to which frontline obtained access, tracks his life in the military. manning had become an analyst at a time of increased intelligence sharing, part of a series of post-9/11 reforms meant to give analysts like manning more data. prior to 9/11, information was more compartmentalized, or "stovepiped." >> "stovepipe" is a corridor, you know, where no one can get into it. there were cia stovepipes, there were fbi stovepipes, there were dod stovepipes. >> so there was an effort made, in the wake of 9/11, to integrate information-- share it, integrate and pass it around in real time with the proper use
of our modern technologies. >> smith: manning was assigned to battalion headquarters. he did intelligence work for the unit's commanding officers in preparation for their deployment to iraq. manning liked his assignment. >> he talked about the fact that he was smart. it was able to get him in a different position, doing something different so he wasn't down there with the guys that he called the "grunts." he didn't tell me any specifics, but he did mention that he was consulted by those who were much higher ranked than he was, and it was a source of pride for him. >> smith: but while he was proud to be entrusted with state secrets, he chose not to keep his private life secret. on facebook, he joined groups like repeal don't ask don't tell, and "liked" gay marriage.
it worried his father. >> i did see some comments that i thought were pretty incriminating as far as don't ask, don't tell. you know, he was kind of asking for trouble. >> smith: brian manning is a former navy intelligence analyst. >> i thought that was pretty risky-- "hey, you know, aren't you going against the policy that's in place where you're at?" >> smith: manning was taking a big risk. under the army's "don't ask, don't tell" rules, gay soldiers, like manning, were required to keep their sexual orientation secret. his friends also worried about his political activism. >> in his facebook profile, he posted signs and pictures at his presence at rallies. >> smith: gay rights rallies? >> right. this struck me as very dangerous
to his position. i mean, i admired him for his... you know, for his courage on this, but i thought it might be a little bit foolhardy. >> smith: during this period, manning also started a relationship with a young man from upstate new york named tyler watkins. on weekends, bradley would visit him in boston, where watkins was studying. during those trips, the young intelligence analyst also found a new group of friends, computer science students and hackers. at the time, wikileaks was already making headlines, and julian assange was an admired figure among hackers. boston opened new doors for manning, but he had a problem back on base. >> he thought that this one officer dude had it out for him, that he didn't like him. and that he thought that a lot
of things they did were inefficient and that, you know, there were a better way of doing things. >> smith: manning had a history of trouble. before he joined the army, he had struggled to keep a steady job. it was his father who pushed him to sign up. he enlisted at 19. at five foot, two, manni was the smallest guy in his unit. ( shouting ) >> smith: boot camp didn't go well. >> change! >> you could tell the army was not for manning. >> left, right, left! >> the drill sergeants just did not like him at all, and they just picked on him constantly. you know, "that was not a good push up! go do 20 more!" since he was gay and effeminate and small and tiny, he could do a small, little thing, and they would just try to make his life a living hell. >> smith: despite being harassed, manning fought back. >> he tried to fight and argue,
because manning is a very vocal person. even though he was picked on a lot, he would... he'd speak for himself. he would let... he would yell back and fight, and that's, i think, what caused a lot of drill sergeants to pick on him even more. >> what are you going to do?! >> smith: it was a vicious circle. manning started getting into fights. at fort drum, he was reprimanded for tossing chairs and yelling at fellow soldiers. he was referred for counseling. but because of "don't ask, don't tell," manning was unable to confide in his army therapist. he sought counseling off base. >> he called me from fort drum after some clashes between him and... and officers or other enlisted men. and, mostly, it was just him crying over the phone to me. >> smith: crying? sobbing?
>> very violently. >> smith: and what would he be saying? >> a lot of it was intelligible. mostly, it was, "why?" he claimed that his superiors were stupid. and, "i can't stay in this situation. i'm never going to get out." >> smith: his army supervisor was concerned about sending manning to iraq, worried that he was a risk both to himself and others. but there was a shortage of qualified analysts. he was sent, anyway. during the time that he's either in training or after his deployment overseas, you had no communications with him? >> none. >> smith: and knew nothing about any troubles that he might be having? >> nothing. not an email, not a text message, not a letter, nothing. >> smith: did you write to him? >> nope. >> smith: did you ever... >> i don't even know his address.
>> smith: manning arrived at forward operating base hammer in mid-october 2009. he would work with a handful of intelligence analysts in a top secret facility called a scif. >> a scif is simply a facility that meets very specific, very rigid standards to safeguard the classified information that's stored inside. anybody who has access, physical access to those networks, has been given a great deal of trust by the united states government. >> smith: the two classified networks manning had access to were jwics, which contains high- level military secrets, and siprnet, which stores hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables. >> and it wasn't only for sharing purposes with other agencies; it was also for the purposes of sharing with other governments. because we gave access to siprnet to key allies.
>> there's just been a theory in the military, over the last decade, especially, that the lower you push this information, the more you empower your people, the greater strategic benefit you are going to ultimately see-- you know, the platoon and squad level-- can have an order of magnitude of transformational impact during a war. >> smith: there was a flood of information that analysts like manning would have had access to. every helicopter and every drone records its missions. >> all right, spot on 1-6-0. >> roger. >> smith: soldiers wear helmet cams. ( gunfire ) and every day, soldiers in the field file detailed reports of their battles, their encounters with informants, and more. these reports are the war logs. >> we're talking about thousands
of people in, really, every military command that there is. there's an office. there's computers with information that allow analysts to access just an absolute cornucopia of material. >> smith: security controls on this information can vary. manning could bring recordable cds into his scif, apparently without problems. >> that he was playing lady gaga or whatever on a classified work station in a war zone, i can't speak to that. obviously, you're not allowed to plug in any unclassified media, and if you do, that media becomes classified at the level of the work station, immediately. >> smith: and there was nothing preventing manning from downloading data, and no software in place to detect unusual downloading activity. >> the idea that this guy could
download confidential, classified information onto a cd, or plug in a memory stick into a computer and a) it would allow... allow you to do that, and b) there was no red flag that went up for a supervisor to say, you know, "why is this guy spending so much time doing this kind of thing?" i mean, that was shocking. >> smith: in january 2010, manning would return to the us on leave. he went to see tyler watkins. but their relationship was on the rocks. according to his friend, jason edwards, manning was feeling abandoned. >> i asked him about this. i said, "do you have anyone that you can confide in? do you have anyone that you really would consider your friend?" and he assured me that he had nothing. and, so, for him, tyler was... tyler was... was where he put all the... that was the one
basket in which he put all his emotional eggs. >> smith: it was during that week in boston that manning attended this party at boston university's hacker space, hosted by david house. >> i was a senior at boston university in computer science. and i founded this maker space at bu called builds-- b.u. information lab and design space. bradley showed up to the open house at this event. and, you know, this was a night when the room was absolutely packed. he didn't strike me at all, at that time, as being particularly memorable or remarkable individual. what he was doing was mostly socializing, meeting others, trying to learn about how this scene in boston actually functioned. >> smith: standing back, leaning against the table is bradley manning. the young intelligence analyst, full of secrets, was mingling among hackers.
investigators now believe that, sometime in this period, manning either uploaded or handed off two large data files, the war logs from iraq and afghanistan. >> we don't really know whether manning approached wikileaks or people around wikileaks, or if it was the other way around. but my theory is, whichever way it is, there's an intermediary. there's a group of people in the middle, probably these people in cambridge, massachusetts, who are kind of former computer hackers, many of whom are supporters and are kind of in this loose network of people who support wikileaks. so somewhere in this mix, you have manning with access to this information; you've got wikileaks and julian assange with the desire to get it; and you've got a helpful intermediary. and somewhere in between here, there's a transfer i believe takes place. >> smith: the question of how
assange acquired the documents is important. was assange a passive recipient, or was he more involved? >> i think assange is savvy enough that he would have tried to avoid, at all costs, any direct contact with... with bradley manning, understanding that could later lead to a much easier prosecution on grounds of conspiracy to commit espionage. >> smith: in other words, if wikileaks actively helped someone violate secrecy laws, assange and his colleagues could be held criminally liable. >> we had one rule at the core of this whole project, and that was not to solicit anything. this is a very important part of this whole project. it's one of these golden rules that you need to have is you do not solicit material. you're just a conduit. we accept these documents anonymously and we have very strong mechanisms to protect the sources that we have. >> instead of keeping source identity secret, we simply do not collect them at all.
we've never lost a source and we've never lost a legal case. we have technological means to protect people. >> smith: assange says he designed wikileaks so that he wouldn't even know who his sources were. >> that sort of dedication to protecting sources is something that our sources have seen. we do not know whether mr. manning is our source or not. and, of course, if we did know, we are obligated ethically to not reveal it. >> smith: but how do you prevent me from writing you and telling you in a chat that i have a video of a massacre, and i want you to tell me how to get it to you? >> our help desk has a completely anonymous chat. it's anonymous to us. the user names are anonymous, and so on. >> smith: in february 2010, manning was back in iraq. and within a month or two, he allegedly loaded special data
mining software onto his classified workstation and started downloading more documents, including a quarter- million confidential state department cables. >> confidential information like, what did secretary of defense gates say to his counterpart in paris? what did the ambassador in paris say to secretary gates? but it's confidential. bradley manning, for example, does not need to know what the secretary of defense said to his counterpart in paris. >> smith: by late april, bradley manning's private world was falling apart. when manning saw on facebook that his friend tyler watkins was in a new relationship, he lashed out. "if you don't start answering some goddamn questions," he wrote, "there will be a hell of a scene." >> i really thought he was going to kill himself. i just was waiting for the news that he was going to blow his head off. >> smith: according to an army
report, a week after the breakup, manning was found in a fetal position. he had a knife, and had etched on a chair the words, "i want..." >> he was despondent. he was in the process of being demoted after getting in a fight with another soldier. he... he claimed that he was on his way out of the army. so, there was... there was a lot going on. >> the last message i remember seeing from him was something to the effect that there was news that was going to shock the world, and that i would hear about it. >> smith: in late may, a hacker in california was contacted and began a chat with someone using the screen name bradass87.
"if you had free reign over classified networks and you saw incredible things, awful things, what would you do?" >> he spoke in hypotheticals, at first. even then, i largely blew it off. there just aren't enough hours in the day to correspond with everybody that wants to correspond with me. >> smith: the hacker, adrian lamo, was well known in the cyber underground. in 2003, he'd been arrested for hacking the new york times. and the day before the chat, lamo was featured in an article on wired.com that discussed his psychiatric problems. bradass87 would keep up his chat with lamo for the next four days. >> he talked a lot about his personal life, about his relationships, about his experiences in the military, about his experiences back home.
>> smith: lamo says the person also contacted him via email, and they became friends on facebook. it was bradley manning, intelligence analyst in iraq, and in his profile, there was the chat name bradass87. he read more. >> looking at his facebook page, i got the sense that bradley was very depressed. >> smith: then, during one their chats, bradass87 started dropping hints about a crazy white-haired aussie. >> he mentioned julian assange in the context julian was the individual at wikileaks who he had initially established contact with. >> smith: he also mentioned that he had leaked thousands of classified documents, including a huge tranche of diplomatic cables. >> i asked him if there was any way to recover the documents, and he indicated that they had
already been uploaded to wikileaks' server. it was a fairly unambiguous statement. >> narrator: lamo says he believed manning was a security risk and worried that, if he didn't say something, he could be party to a crime. he called an old friend, tim webster. >> adrian was quite conflicted. we had a back and forth where he was concerned about whether or not this was the right thing to do; whether to betray this person's trust was appropriate, given his actions. adrian recognized that we can't have somebody out there leaking classified information like this. it's not something he can allow to continue. >> smith: webster coached lamo to keep up the chat as long as possible, to find out more details. he also alerted the pentagon that they may have a security breach. lamo was nervous and felt trapped. >> there was no correct option; there was only the least incorrect one.
either way, i would have been screwing somebody over. >> i had to pick who. there was no option to just sit back and wash my hands of the responsibility, because that, in and of itself, would have been a making a choice. >> smith: lamo then called a reporter he knew at wired.com. >> he called me to tell me that he that he had a meeting set up the next day with the fbi and the army, because he was turning in somebody who'd contacted him online and confessed to passing classified information to... to someone he described as a foreign national. >> smith: poulsen convinced lamo to hand him a copy of the chat, and then asked a colleague to follow up on any leads. >> we went through the chat logs and we looked at what else he mentioned. tyler watkins was named in the chat logs. >> smith: zetter called watkins. he told her about a conversation he'd had with manning during manning's january visit to boston.
>> brad had told him that he uncovered information that was concerned him and he was considering leaking it. and so, he was weighing that-- whether or not the good that he felt he would be doing in leaking the information outweighed any kind of, you know, personal suffering that he might undergo for leaking it. >> smith: on may 26, 2010, bradley manning was arrested. it was posted on facebook. >> we got confirmation that manning had been arrested when manning called his aunt from jail. >> and asked her to update his facebook page with a message. >> smith: it would be his final facebook entry. >> i just couldn't... i couldn't believe it. didn't seem true. i guess part of me probably believed that this would... that
this would turn out to not, you know, be anything. and, well, i guess i was wrong. so... >> please welcome julian assange. ( applause ) >> smith: in the weeks before manning was arrested, julian assange was on the road promoting wikileaks. >> i'm not sure how many people here are familiar with the basics of my work. i will just try and go very briefly... >> smith: since 2006, he had already amassed an impressive record of leaking secrets... >> sensitive material, restricted material... >> smith: ...but the "collateral murder" video had taken wikileaks to a new level. >> one classified video can possibly stop a war... >> smith: the news of manning's arrest hit wikileaks like a bomb. >> that was terrible, that one
problem occurred that we had always feared, which is one... that one of our potential sources would... would be exposed. they had this picture all over the internet of this really sympathetic looking guy, and he's such a young person. so, it's kind of extraordinarily that someone at this age has these really profound views on things. >> smith: the outing of an alleged source was bad enough, but wired.com had also published portions of the lamo chat, complete with manning's references to assange, wikileaks, and to documents he had leaked. >> assange was anxious and frightened initially when our story came out. in fact, he contacted me and he wanted the chat logs. he said that he needed it in order to prepare manning's defense. but, you know, it was to prepare manning's defense for who? i can only speculate, but i
think that he was concerned about what was in the chat logs about himself. >> smith: zetter refused to hand them over. assange then tried getting the entire chat from lamo. >> assange sent me an email after bradley was arrested, encouraging me to change my characterization of the events to refer to manning as a whistleblower rather than a spy, and to ascribe my motivations to a momentary lapse of reason. >> smith: adrian lamo-- you wrote him an email after the fact. >> yes, that's correct. >> smith: and you encouraged him to change his characterization of the events. >> yes, i thought that if there was a chance that, regardless... let me clarify. we are in a very difficult position concerning bradley manning. the difficulty of our position is that our technology does not
permit us to understand whether someone is one of our sources or not, because the best way to keep a secret is to never have it. >> smith: but in the chat with lamo, bradass87 says he did not use the normal wikileaks submission system; he says he had a relationship with assange. >> he stated that he had spent four months trying to track assange down and reassure himself of the identity of the person that he was communicating with. that is to make sure that it actually was assange. >> smith: people who have read the chat will raise several instances where he talks about you and his relationship. and when you read it, it sounds like there's a connection, perhaps a chat or email or some kind of connection with you. >> we looked at the... the whole context, and was there someone trying to big note themselves by suggesting their connection to us? we don't have sources that we know about.
and i had never heard the name bradley manning before. i never heard the name bradass87 before. ( applause ) >> smith: at a major conference last year, assange was also asked if manning was his source for the video and the cables. >> there's been this us intelligence analyst, bradley manning, arrested, and it's alleged that he professed in a chat room that he leaked this video to you, along with 280,000 classified us embassy cables. i mean, did he? >> we have denied receiving those cables. >> smith: assange was facing a dilemma. if wikileaks acknowledged having more documents alleged to have come from manning, he risked further harm to his source. did you discuss internally, amongst yourselves, whether or not the war logs and eventually the cables could further jeopardize him?
>> there was discussion about, you know, we have a situation where there is a young man held in military prison under investigation who's alleged to be a source for "collateral murder" video. but we have published and received military documents long before bradley manning ever joined the army. >> smith: but he mentions some of these packages, in partic... allegedly in the chat. >> for example, in that alleged chat, he does not mention anything about the afghan material or... >> smith: but the iraq war logs and the cables are mentioned. >> he mentions a number of things. what we do know is that we promised the source that we would publish everything that they gave to us. >> it was clear for me that these diplomatic cables should not be released. >> smith: why? >> because it was unclear how much that would implicate someone that had gotten into
trouble. and i think it is... i mean, it's a very hard distinction you have to take. what is more important, bringing the truth to the light or protecting one person? >> smith: what is the right choice? >> i don't know. my gut and my heart say that you should protect the person. >> smith: after manning's arrest, assange was scheduled to speak in the us at a hackers' conference. >> the person who leaked the video in the first place to wikileaks should be considered a national hero. ( applause ) >> smith: talk of assange and manning dominated the discussions. >> to set the record clear, i'm not an informant; i'm a witness in a criminal case. >> smith: adrian lamo sat on what was referred to as the "snitch panel." >> bradley manning, the alleged
leaker, is currently sitting in prison in kuwait, i believe, and he could be locked up for the rest of his life. what do you feel about that? >> i think it is a little bit ludicrous to say that bradley manning is going to be tortured. we don't do that to our... to our citizens. ( boos and shouts ) >> he got booed at many points. what he had done was probably the most unpopular thing, ever, in the hacker world-- when someone alleged to have been responsible for bringing out the truth is imprisoned because of the actions of somebody else. the reaction to that is simply swift and condemning. >> smith: the crowd eagerly awaited the keynote speaker. >> how many of you expect to see julian walk through the side door right now and come up to this stage? ( applause ) yeah? >> smith: conference organizers believed there were half a dozen federal agents sitting in the audience.
>> how many of you live in the real world? ( laughter ) >> smith: assange sent a surrogate. >> hello to all my friends and fans in international and domestic surveillance. ( laughter ) i'm here today because i believe that we can make a better world. julian, unfortunately, can't make it, because we don't live in that better world. >> it was rumored that documents were yet to be released. and having that kind of a rumor that you have sensitive documents that could embarrass the us or cause national security issues makes it a little difficult to travel to the country that's accusing you of that in the first place. >> smith: for a month, assange had been in hiding. then, he resurfaced. he had decided to go ahead and publish the afghan and iraq war logs-- in all, nearly 500,000 files. he sought partners. >> he wanted to build this coalition. so that was his idea of how to
go about this. "let's start working on the coalition between a couple of newspapers, the guardian, the new york times and der spiegel." >> we insisted on bringing in the new york times. we also insisted on the new york times publishing first, so if there was any debate before a jury about had it been published first in a foreign publication or a us publication, it would be very clear it was published first in a us publication. >> smith: protected by the first amendment. >> protected by the first amendment. >> smith: not an act of... of espionage? >> exactly. not an act of espionage. but that... clearly, that wasn't the case, but we didn't want anyone to try and spin it, either. >> smith: while assange started working with the guardian's reporters in london, the guardian's chief editor called his counterpart at the new york times. >> he, bit by bit, laid out the situation, which was that they
had been given hundreds of thousands of documents, dispatches from the field in afghanistan and iraq. there was at that point an intimation that there might be more things to come, and was i interested? and, clearly, i was interested. >> smith: over the next four weeks, the times, der spiegel, and guardian reporters pored through the war logs looking for news. there was no one startling headline, but there was lots of rich detail. >> it was a remarkable insight. it was an unvarnished, rich portrait of the daily conduct of two wars. i would argue that you came away with stuff you didn't get in the pentagon papers, because of the... the rawness of the information, the sheer day to day, mundane life of war. >> smith: in their coverage, the papers decided that they would black out the names of any civilian informants working for the us military. but assange had a different idea for his wikileaks' web site. one evening, just days before
publication, they confronted him over dinner. >> julian, whose project was to publish the entire data set, was very reluctant to delete those names, to redact them. and we said, "julian, we... we've got to do something about these redactions. we really have got to." and he said, "these people were collaborators, informants. they deserve to die." and there was a sort of silence fell around the table. >> the other journalists who were involved from all three news organizations were also raising the issue with him, and getting the same answer. part of what was steering his judgment was his origins as a hacker, a computer hacker, where there's a very purist ideology that all information should be accessible to everybody. >> smith: only at the 11th hour would assange change his mind. his team was caught off guard. >> four days before publication, 90,000 documents needed to be redacted.
i mean, what do you do? it's 90,000 documents. and there's just no way that anyone could screen 90,000 documents over the weekend. >> smith: in a process assange called "harm minimization," he agreed to hold back around 14,000 of the most sensitive documents. but it didn't protect everyone at risk. >> and within 48 hours of us publishing the war logs, hostile newspapers in new york and london who compete with the guardian and the new york times ran big stories saying, "we've been on the wikileaks web site. we found material which could get people killed." and that had a very damaging political impact on the way that the story played out. and also, within wikileaks, where julian's colleagues were horrified that their web site was carrying this material, and very angry that it was carrying that material and they'd never been told. >> smith: the question of harm minimization-- you came in for a lot of criticism of that-- that
you were, in your initial conversations, not concerned. >> that's absolutely false and this is a typical rhetorical trick... >> smith: why... why does this keep coming up, why are there people out there that are saying that you didn't care if informants were killed? but you reject the idea or the allegation... >> we are completely... completely... >> smith: ...that you... that you ever resisted, that you were into just releasing the names? >> it's completely false. we have a harm minimization procedure. a harm minimization procedure is that we don't want innocent people who have a decent chance of being hurt to be hurt. >> smith: by the time the iraq war logs were released, they were heavily redacted. but the times had lost trust in the process. they refused to link to wikileaks in any of their coverage. assange was furious. >> julian called me up and said that that he took that as a sign
of disrespect and, you know, it made him angry. >> smith: what did you tell him? >> i said we believe that in those documents you posted are the names of innocent people whose lives could be put at risk. we were not going to link to that. >> smith: what did he say? >> he said, "where's the respect?" >> smith: assange threatened to cut the times out of any future deals, notably access to the 251,000 diplomatic cables. then, the times published a profile of bradley manning. >> julian was quite angry at the new york times. following on the heels of our disagreement about the linking, we wrote a piece about bradley manning which he very much didn't like. >> assange's narrative was that bradley manning was a hero, and that he did this for heroic purposes. we wrote a much more textured story that also said he was a troubled guy who had a troubled relationship with the military. assange hated that story. he hated things we wrote about him. he hated the fact that we were publicly critical of him.
so he didn't want us anywhere near these documents. he gave them to the guardian. >> he decided he was going to doublecross the new york times and cut them out of the deal, because he was angry. they had written a disobliging profile of him, describing him as imperious and crazy and, you know, impossible. we weren't willing to doublecross the new york times. we thought a deal is a deal. >> smith: the guardian shared a copy of the cables with the times. so, on the evening of november 28, 2010, the new york times, the guardian, and der spiegel published. ( news reports overlapping ) >> smith: it touched every country. it was the biggest story on the planet. of all the files manning is alleged to have leaked, this was the mother lode.
>> whoever leaked that information is guilty of treason, and i think anything less than execution is too kind. >> question-- do you believe that actually capturing mr. assange and prosecuting him will send the right kind of signal? >> mr. assange has disclosed this material without regard to the risk that it does generate to real people... >> smith: is there anything good to come out of this in your view? >> no. >> smith: nothing? >> the unauthorized release of 251,000 cables that covers every relationship the united states has with countries around the world has done damage to the national interest of the united states. >> this is a nightmare for us diplomats. >> smith: it was a window never before opened to the public. >> they are highly sensitive documents never meant to be read by the public. >> smith: daily dispatches between 270 diplomatic outposts around the world and washington. >> the obama administration is in the midst of international
damage control. >> smith: the release exposed candid, often embarrassing assessments. >> it's certainly been a pretty serious irritant in a number of places. and, you know, to the extent that cooperating with other countries, multi-lateralism, partnerships around the world-- to the extent that these kind of leaks undermine friendships, they're harmful. is it a nuclear bomb? no. but it's... it's pretty serious. >> smith: according to us diplomats, it's made it harder for them to do their job. was that the intent? >> well, if... if they are embarrassed by what their job is, then yes, it is... that was absolutely the broader philosophical intent, to make embarrassing behavior harder to commit. >> smith: but it will make local officials less likely to share information. >> embarrassing behavior is just this side of abusive behavior. >> smith: only 12,000 out of a
quarter million diplomatic cables have been published so far, but they've already had consequences. a dozen cables from tunisia exposed widespread corruption there, and helped fuel a revolution, and arguably had a domino effect. >> i mean, i don't want to give wikileaks credit for, you know, the transformation of the arab world but, you know, to the extent that tunisia influenced egypt, these cables played some role in the overthrow of the mubarak regime. and these things are having an impact that i don't think any of us imagined at the time when somebody was just handing us a huge trove of secret documents. >> if you boil it down, look at what happened as a result of wikileaks. we gained a tremendous understanding of how government works, how wars are conducted. balance the disclosures and the
impact and the importance of the disclosures against everybody's fear over what was going to happen-- seems to me it ended up okay, right? >> army intelligence private first class bradley manning has been held for seven months in solitary confinement. >> he is in isolation as we keep our most serious criminals, even though he has not been convicted. >> free bradley manning! free bradley manning! >> smith: manning has been charged with 22 counts, including unlawful possession of classified material and aiding the enemy. >> i was the bradley manning of my day! >> smith: daniel ellsberg, who famously leaked the pentagon papers, hoping to end the vietnam war, came to his defense. >> bradley manning is no more of a traitor than i am, and i'm not. ( cheers and applause ) >> smith: and so did his computer science friends from boston. >> i'm a friend of bradley manning's, and i've been visiting him for the last few months in confinement, and i got
to tell you-- it's stuff like this that gives bradley hope. >> smith: manning has refused to cooperate with the government's investigation. supporters say the government is trying to turn him. >> bradley manning has not been convicted of anything. he's not formally been indicted of anything. and he's being punished with this solitary confinement. i believe this is an effort to get bradley manning to crack under the pressure and to maybe go for a plea or something. >> smith: just last month, manning was moved from quantico, virginia, to a military prison in fort leavenworth, kansas. his lawyer says his conditions have improved. manning is expected to face his first pre-trial hearing this summer. in england, julian assange is facing his own troubles. he is fighting extradition to sweden where he is accused of sex crimes; charges he denies. >> and while the world's media
wait outside court, inside, julian assange has been granted bail. >> smith: assange now lives in the family home of a supporter three hours northeast of london. he must report daily to the police. a grand jury in the us is investigating his connection to the leaks. >> smith: you're tied up here in this house, and you've offended a lot of people. >> yeah, but history is on our side. when you expose powerful organizations, they will... there'll be ad hominem attacks and there'll be all sorts of attacks. and yes, in our case... in my personal case, they've been rather hard. but it's not an unusual circumstance. >> smith: what's next for wikileaks? >> wikileaks is continuing to step up its publishing speed. we are still involved in getting the majority of these cables out and it does good. we can see the effects all around us. >> smith: last september, daniel domscheit-berg left wikileaks to start his own whistleblowing web site after a falling out with
assange. >> he doesn't care very much about your views, and it's either his way or the highway. and it just really got abusive. so, to a point where if you criticized it, he was starting... he started to threaten people. >> smith: how do you feel about what you accomplished? >> well, i feel... and that i think is the whole... is the only important thing about wikileaks. it has set in motion a cultural change in some way that it has created this whole debate that we are having today. what is secrecy? and is there a need for secrecy? and what is the need for breaking these secrets? and where do you have to draw the line in between these things? the goal is not to get rid of all secrets in this world, but the goal is to foster transparency, and that i think is a really important cause. >> smith: adrian lamo, fearing for his safety, is now living in an undisclosed location.
he works as a computer threat analyst. >> i couldn't even begin to speculate how it ends with me. if someone had told me that all this would happen, say, five years ago, i... it would have beggared belief. it's really living proof that truth is stranger than fiction. >> smith: it was one year ago that bradass87 reached out to lamo. "i wouldn't mind going to prison for the rest of my life. it's important that it gets out. i feel, for some bizarre reason, it might actually change something."
>> next time on frontline, four confessions... >> i grabbed michelle... >> ...forced her to have intercourse... >> i was raping her. >> i stabbed her. >> ...four men... >> he got me to confess. >> i broke and... >> ...told them... >> ...whatever they wanted... >> ...to hear. >> one case... >> four people, interrogated coercively... >> ...that cracks open the justice system. >> ...confessed to a crime they didn't commit. forget the truth. forget justice. >> "the confessions." watch fron. >> frontline continues online. read bradley manning's facebook page. >> we do not know whether mr. manning is our source or not. >> read the full interview with julian assange. >> there was no correct option. >> get more from former hacker adrian lamo.
>> there was only the least incorrect one. >> and there's much more on frontline's web site. watch more than 100 full programs; explore interactive timelines; follow frontline on facebook and twitter. then, tell us what you think at pbs.org. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major funding is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. and by reva and david logan. committed to investigative journalism as the guardian of the public interest. additional funding is provided by the park foundation. dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues.
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